The Grand Prix of Bahrain was a great race with full of action and battles on the track. Nico Rosberg started from the pole position with Sebastian Vettel with him on the front row. Fernando Alonso started 3rd and his team mate Felipe Massa started 4th after grid penalties were handed for Mark Webber after a collision at China and for Lewis Hamilton because of a gearbox change for the qualifying session. Also, Massa was the one who teams were looking at as he went through the Q3 with hard tyres, which meant he was going to start the race with hards and trying to find advantage from that.
Rosberg was able to keep his lead after the start, and Fernando Alonso got past Sebastian Vettel, but later lost the position back to the German. It wasn’t easy for Massa as he had a contact with Adrian Sutil which damaged his front wing, but a wing change wasn’t needed. In the front it seemed that Rosberg really couldn’t pull away from this rivals and Vettel was soon right behind him and took the lead. Soon Rosberg started to lose places as Alonso got past him too, followed by Di Resta and Massa in the next couple of laps. Soon Rosberg found himself from the 5th place. The Mercedes was really lacking some race pace despite a great pole position in qualifying.
Meanwhile, Fernando Alonso had an unusual problem as his DRS seemed to be stuck open. The Spaniard had to visit pits and the pit crew was able to close the DRS. The tyres were changed to the prime compound and the Ferrari driver went back to the track. The problem continued though - Alonso opened his DRS on the DRS zone and it was stuck open again. There was a problem with mechanism that prevents the wing from opening too much. He had to pit again and once again and the pit crew closed the wing. From then, he had to race without the DRS thanks to the problem.
After falling down many positions, Rosberg came to the pits to change for the hard compound. Most of the pit stops were made by others in the next couple of laps. Paul Di Resta and Kimi Räikkönen stayed out for longer than others and they were leading the race. It seemed like the duo were going to make a two stop strategy. Felipe Massa also pitted early even though he started with the harder tyre, it seemed like the planned strategy didn’t pay out very well in the end.
Later on Di Resta pitted from the read and Räikkönen took the 1st place. He didn’t stay there for long though - Vettel who had already pitted and who had fresh tyres took the lead from Räikkönen who came for his pit stop much later. Meanwhile Massa faced a problem and had to come to the pits. It seemed that he had a slight puncture and he changed to medium tyres during the pitstop. Soon afterwards, Jean Eric Vergne drove to the pits and retired from the race.
Vettel was leading with a big gap to his rivals, but it was close fighting behind him. 3rd placed Rosberg was again making a train behind him, as both McLaren drivers Jenson Button and Sergio Perez and also Romain Grosjean were struggling behind him. Rosberg defended hard and Button wasn’t impressed about it on the team radio. Later Button was able to get past and so did Grosjean. Rosberg and Perez later pitted at the same time for their second pitstop. Again this started the pit stop trend as many drivers pitted in for new rubber. The positions changed very quickly on the field, but it started to seem like the Lotus boys Räikkönen and Grosjean were very likely to join Sebastian Vettel on the podium.
McLaren boys were fighting head to head on the track and Perez clearly did what the team boss Martin Whitmarsh asked and wished from him to do in the future races, to be ‘more aggressive’. Perez was challenging his team mate really hard and they even had a small contact. Perez lost a small piece of his front wing, but it was nothing too serious. Once again Button wasn’t happy in his radio, asking Perez to calm down. Rosberg and Grosjean started to catch the McLaren double during their fight. Grosjean got past Rosberg and the fight between McLaren drivers continued: Perez had to go wide and Button continued telling on the radio that the team should sort it out, but there was never a team order made. Grosjean then got past both Perez and Button.
It was Räikkönen’s turn to come for his second pitstop, which was also his last. He asked on the radio though why did they pit so early. Kimi clearly thought that it was possible to run with his old tyres for longer. He changed for hard tyres, and Button also pitted in from the same lap.
Felipe Massa was with problems again - he had a puncture on his rear right tyre. It was a really unlucky day for Ferrari who could’ve had very good points with both drivers, but both faced untypical problems. Alonso though was able to fight himself back to the points even if he had one more stop behind than others thanks to the DRS issue.
Fights continued on the field until the end. In the last lap, Lewis Hamilton pushed himself past Mark Webber to 5th. Sergio Perez later did the same move, and the Australian suddenly dropped to the 7th place.
Sebastian Vettel won the race after a great performance, having Lotus boys Kimi Räikkönen and Romain Grosjean with him on the podium. Di Resta continued Force India’s positive early season by taking the 4th place in front of Hamilton, Perez and Webber. Alonso managed to put himself up to points and to 8th place after problems with DRS. The pole starter Rosberg was 9th and Jenson Button on the last point position, 10th.
Mark Webber and Nico Rosberg were under investigation by the stewards after a collision between these two. It was investigated after the race and there was no penalties given, but the Red Bull driver received a reprimand for the situation.
“It was good fun at the beginning with some very tight wheel to wheel racing. At the start you don’t know if you will be quick or not, as everyone is a bit all over the place, including yourself! It’s important to get to the front; we saw at the last race that if you get stuck behind someone then it does have an impact on tyre wear and today it was important to make use of the tyres we had saved from qualifying yesterday. I love to be in clean air, so I was pushing hard to get into the lead and, with the speed we had mid-race, it was quite comfortable today. Well done to the whole team, to everyone here, to the factory in the background and especially to those who were working on the strategy today; it worked just as we expected, so we obviously got the numbers right.” - Sebastian Vettel
Written By: Sini Salminen